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Excess mortality of mental disorder

  • Clare Harris (a1) and Brian Barraclough (a1)

We describe the increased risk of premature death from natural and from unnatural causes for the common mental disorders.


With a Medline search (1966–1995) we found 152 English language reports on the mortality of mental disorder which met our inclusion criteria. From these reports, covering 27 mental disorder categories and eight treatment categories, we calculated standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all causes of death, all natural causes and all unnatural causes; and for most, SMRs for suicide, other violent causes and specific natural causes.


Highest risks of premature death, from both natural and unnatural causes, are for substance abuse and eating disorders. Risk of death from unnatural causes is especially high for the functional disorders, particularly schizophrenia and major depression. Deaths from natural causes are markedly increased for organic mental disorders, mental retardation and epilepsy.


All mental disorders have an increased risk of premature death.

Corresponding author
Dr B. M. Barraclough, Mental Health Group, University of Southampton, Royal South Hants Hospital, Brintons Terrace, Southampton SO14 0YG. e-mail: Offprints will not be available from the authors.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Excess mortality of mental disorder

  • Clare Harris (a1) and Brian Barraclough (a1)
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